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majhillier has commented on (1) product.

Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler
Noah's Compass

majhillier, January 1, 2013

This extremely well written book by Anne Tyler seems to be a bland little tale of Liam Pennywell, a divorced man retiring from his teaching job at a boys school when it becomes clear it's retire or be pushed out. To economize he gives up his very nice apartment in a lovely old building near the school campus for a ground floor apartment in newer building (read: shabby modern) in a dicey neighborhood. He is unaware of the nature of his new environment, although everyone else is dismayed by the locale as they help him move in. His first night in his new flat he is attacked while asleep in his own bed. As a result he suffers from selective memory loss; he cannot remember being attacked. This loss distresses Liam and he tries very hard to reclaim his memory while his ex-wife and family cannot understand why that is important. People seem to fall into his life; his youngest daughter comes to spend the night and decides she'd rather live with dad than disciplinarian mom, the assistant of a wealthy businessman decides Tom should be her husband, although it turns out she already has one of those. Tyler fools the reader into thinking this is a story of a man coming to grips with the loss of his memory as a metaphor for finally re-engaging with his life, but no dear reader, Tyler has something worse coming for Liam. Tyler very late in the work reveals how long before we met Liam, his life was derailed by a devastating loss, one that he never tried to sort out. How that lack of coming to grips with tragedy effects the character's choices at the end of the story is heart-breaking. Anne Tyler is a very wicked woman writing very subtle stories that leave one wracked and if I could I would press this book insistently into your hand and not let you leave without it.
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